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Decreased intra-hemispheric prefrontal connectivity and impaired

performance after induction of cognitive fatigue during a state of

sleep deprivation. An optical imaging study


Borragn. G, Guillaume. C, Slama. H, Guerrero-Mosquera. C and Peigneux. P

UR2NF, Neuropsychology and Functional Neuroimaging Research Unit at Centre de Recherche Cognition & Neurosciences (CRCN)
and UNI - Neuroscience Institute of Universit Libre de Bruxelles

Detecting cognitive fatigue (CF) related changes in brain dynamics is a promising approach to detect when an individual starts being cognitively less
efficient1.Transcranial Doppler sonography2, functional magnetic resonance imaging3 and electrophysiology4 studies suggest that decreased
performance following sustaining cognitive demands is associated with the unavailability of brain resources. Yet, it remains disputed whether the
unavailability of brain resources associated with decreased performance during sustained cognitive demands results from a shrinkage of these
resources (as postulated by the resources theories5) or whether it is the access to the pool of resources which is compromised (as proposed in
dynamic models of stress and sustained performance6). In the present study, we investigate this issue in the context of increasingly growing sleep
pressure during a night of total sleep deprivation (SD). We hypothesised that reduced fronto-parietal activity following SD should lead to a faster
development of task-related CF.



16 young healthy subjects (22 2.23 years)
Inclusion criteria: PSQI < 8; FSMCcog < 28;
HADs anxiety/depression scales < 8.

Experimental design

Figure 3. Performance evolution during TloadDback practice in the

evening (1EV), the middle of the night (2MN) and the morning (3MO).
Grey rectangles show time points in which performance is equal.

Figure 1. During the 13 hours of sleep deprivation (SD), participants
were administered hourly a vigilance task (5-minute version of the PVT)
and cognitive fatigue (CF) and sleepiness self-report scales. CF was
induced during the TloadDback task (duration 16 minutes) at 3 different
moments of the night (inter-session interval +/- 4.5 hours): Evening
(1EV), Middle of the Night (2MN) and Morning (3MO). Cortical
oxygenation/deoxygenation changes were assessed during the
TloadDback7 using functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS).


fNIRS acquisition
Multichannel fNIRS (BrainSight V2.3b16, Rogue Research)
NIRS signals recorded at a sample rate of 20 Hz
Raw absorption unities were normalized and band-pass filtered
(0.009 - 0.08 Hz)

Figure 4: Scatter plot of cerebral oxygen exchange (COE) values
during the TloadDback, per region of interest with quadratic fitting. Note
that negative and positive COE values indicate increased and reduced
oxygenation, respectively. The 16 data points are reported per quartile
(t1, t2, t3 and t4) during the TloadDback task.

Figure 2. Rendering of the estimated optodes positions on a

template brain. Red and blue numbers represent sources and
detectors respectively. Yellow lines sketch out the channels created
by the combination of every detector with its corresponding source.
Created using Homer2-AtlasViewer8

Triggering CF impacts differently on the distinct neural networks
After 20h of sleep deprivation, decreased connectivity in left prefrontal
regions is associated with decreased performance during sustained
cognitive demands.
Decreased performance with CF might stem from disrupted brain
connectivity rather than diminished brain resources

Figure 5: Intra- and inter-hemispheric connectivity. Blue circles indicate

the regions of interest where activity was recorded using fNIRS. Green
Xs indicate inter-hemispheric connections in which connectivity
decreased from the beginning (t1) to the end (t4) of the TloadDback task
(bottom right panel) during the 3 sessions. Red Xs indicates the intrahemispheric connection (DLPFC-VLPFC) in which connectivity
decreased in the morning (3MO) session as compared to the evening
(1EV) and middle night (2MN) sessions (bottom left panel).

References: [1] Borghini et al., (2012), Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews (44) pp. 58-75. [2] Warm et al., (2009), Military Psychology (21) pp. 75-100 . [3] Cook et al.,(2007), Neuroimage (36)
pp. 108-122 . [4] Hopstaken et al.,(2015), Psychophysiology (52) pp. 305-315. [5] Young & Stanton (2002). Human factors (44) pp.365-375. [6] Hancock & Warm (1989), Human Factors, (31) pp. 519-537.
[7] Borragn et al.,(2016), Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10,pp.1-8. [8] Aaest et al.,(2015), Neurophotonics, 2.